Previously: Harry and Bury looked around. Sitting on the roof behind them, somehow staying put despite the wind and the constant lurching of the hearse, was the red-armoured woman they’d seen earlier. There was something inhuman about the way she held her head, and the icy blue of her eyes and skin. She rose to her feet and walked forward, dropping into the seat between them. “I am Illyria, God-King of the Primordium, Shaper of Things.”
XI – The Servant Problem
Harry and Bury edged away from her, until the cushioning spells stopped them moving any further. She looked at Bury, seemed to dismiss him, and turned to Harry. “It is customary for you to respond.”
“You are not Merlin, unless you have chosen a new form.”
“No, I'm... wait a minute, you knew Merlin?”
“He visited the Deeper Well... even in my sleep, I was aware of his passing. You have not answered my question.” She touched her hand to his wand arm, and he felt an electric jolt. His whole arm was numb.
“Sorry! I'm Harry Potter.” Harry wasn’t sure that answering would do much good, but it had to be more useful than trying to fight her… Him… It… Whatever…
“You are the Harry Potter who slew the wizard Voldemort?”
Bury muttered “Oh, for Merlin's sake...”
“Your servant is noisy.” She turned her head, lightning fast, to glare balefully at Bury.
“He's not my servant,” Harry said quickly, “and he's flying this thing so please don't distract him. I think he was surprised that you knew my name.” Harry wasn’t; Ginny sometimes joked that if Martians ever landed the first thing that they’d ask for would be an authentic signed Harry Potter photo. Merlin knew that everyone else seemed to want one.
Illyria turned back to Harry. “You will answer my questions; he will drive, without further interruptions.”
“Okay. Yes, I killed Voldemort. How did you know?”
“He was a client of the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart. I read his file, and yours. You appear to be unremarkable, how did you slay him?”
“I got lucky, and he made some big mistakes. What do you mean, ‘a client of the wolf, the ram and the hart’?” A vague memory stirred, a sign he’d seen in Diagon Alley. “Do you mean Wolfram and Hart, the lawyers?”
“Yes. How were you lucky?”
“He just kept making mistakes. He killed his allies on a whim, or when he had a theory that he’d gain magical power from it. And he really misunderstood some of the magic he was using and its consequences.”
“He was incompetent, you were not.”
“That’s about it.”
“You confirm my impression. A pity…”
“Had he triumphed and taken sufficient magical power, he would by now be ripe for the plucking. If you had defeated such a powerful mage you would be an acceptable substitute. But you are not.”
Harry was pretty sure that he wouldn’t have liked to be plucked, whatever she meant by that. The slow return of feeling – and pain – to his arm was confirmation of her power.
Illyria glanced forward, and said “The thestrals are tiring.”
“That’s right,” said Bury, “they can’t fly for long with the hearse in tow.”
“They are creatures of my creation, you will not abuse them. Land immediately.”
As the hearse swooped down towards a rolling moor Harry said “You created the thestrals?”
“I created several beasts of this world, including thestrals, and many of its plants; you will find this hard to believe, but before I arrived this world lacked bubotubers, gillyweed, and spinach.”
"Spinach? Now that's evil," said Harry, then "Hang on!"
Thirty or so seconds of frantic activity later the hearse was on the ground, rolling across the heather and slowing as Bury frantically steered to avoid rocks and trees. Eventually it shuddered to a stop. Illyria seemed to flicker and vanish, reappearing in front of the thestrals. She hadn’t apparated; Harry had the impression that she had simply moved faster than his eye could follow.
As Illyria examined the thestrals, Bury leaned towards Harry and whispered “Do you want to try something?”
“Merlin, no! If she’s really who she says she is she’s practically indestructible.”
“I also have extremely good hearing.” Suddenly Illyria was crouched behind them on the roof of the hearse again. “You have treated the animals well. Now… why do you doubt my identity?”
“It’s… well, it’s…”
“My patience, though great, is not inexhaustible.”
“What he’s trying to say,” Bury said, “is that we both thought that if you were a demon you’d kill us.”
“But we’re not disappointed or anything,” Harry quickly added. Nearby a bird started to sing. Illyria glared at it for a moment, and it flew away, squawking its alarm cry.
“Your knowledge of demons is incomplete, and I am not a demon. In my original form I was a god to demons. You would worship me too, if you saw me in all my majesty.”
“What happened?” asked Harry.
“My servants… my worshippers… sought to bring me back to this world before the stars were right, and trapped my essence in this… this…” She looked down at herself with an expression of disgust “this human shell, destroying its soul in the process.”
“The Slayers did that?” Harry was horrified.
“They did not. For now they, and Spike, are my allies. Now, you will tell me what necromancy you plan with the body of the Slayer Kendra.”
Harry sighed, and was about to launch into another round of explanations when they heard the noise of an approaching helicopter. It began to orbit the hearse, and Harry watched, surprised, as a series of women slid down ropes and landed in a circle around them.
“You will explain to them too.”
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